10 reasons to live in Wandsworth
A large but leafy London borough that's perfect for families: lots to do, good transport links, numerous open spaces... what more could you want?
1. Thing about the area
Where to start? Despite being inner London's biggest borough, Wandsworth has dozens of parks and green spaces (Wandsworth, Clapham, Tooting and Putney Commons, and Battersea Park are just the start of it). It also has some excellent schools, good transport links, and hundreds of things to do with kids. And that's without mentioning the shops, restaurants and nightlife.
2. Child-friendly café
One of our favourites is Eat Play Love in Battersea. It's a bit like the ideal playroom with a nice café attached and lovely staff. The coffee's good, too. Then there's Bertie & Boo in Balham - kids loves playing in the vintage car outside. Matteo in Putney has a downstairs play area where kids can crawl around. Belle Amis in Earlsfield is also very child-friendly and their lemon, rosemary and olive oil cake is fab!
3. Child-free night out
There are loads of great gastro pubs in the area, from The Bolingbroke on the Northcote Road to The Duke's Head in Putney, which has river views and regular comedy or quiz nights. The quirky and much loved Balham Bowls Club is the perfect place for a pint or two, and The Half Moon is THE place for live music. Be At One (in Balham, Battersea and Putney) is cocktail central. The Battersea Arts Centre is on a mission to 'invent the future of theatre', and the Putney Arts Theatre, home to two resident theatre companies, also has regular shows and exhibitions. And finally, for special occasions, there's Bruce Pool's Michelin-starred restaurant overlooking Wandsworth Common, Chez Bruze.
4. Outside space
You're spoilt for choice, but Battersea Park has a bit of everything, including a riverside promenade, adventure playground, Children's Zoo, boating pond and the dynamic Pump House Gallery. A special mention has to go to Tooting Bec Lido which is a local treasure.
Average semi-detached house price
Average class size for primary schools
Wandsworth: 27 pupils
UK: 27 pupils
5. Hidden gem
It's incredibly popular but worth getting on a tour of 575 Wandsworth Road, former home of Kenyon-born poet, novelist and philosopher Khadambi Asalache, who covered almost every wall with exquisite hand-carved fretwork patterns made from reclaimed doors and floorboards he found in skips.
More prosaically, we were chuffed to come across Festing Road in Putney, inspiration for Festive Road in the TV series Mr. Benn. There's a commemorative stone in the pavement to his creator David McKee who lived there. You half expect Mr. Benn himself to come out of Number 52 wearing his bowler hat. Leader's Garden at the end of the road has a good playground.
6. Community venue
The Civic Suite on Wandsworth High Street is an attractive, period venue perfect for large events and it offers free use of the venue for charities. Chatham Hall is perfect for young children's parties, and is conveniently located between the commons.
7. Free visitor attraction
Wandsworth has miles of riverfront between Battersea and Putney. You can walk along the Thames Path for great chunks of it, it's traffic free - so a great place to go with toddlers - and there's always something new and different to spot, whether it's a heron in flight, barges heading for Smugglers Way, kayakers, or helicopters taking off from the London Heliport. Further along the river Vauxhall City Farm has a collection of friendly animals including goats, alpacas, rabbits, and guinea pigs.
8. Day out
If you're going further afield, there's the Horniman Museum and Gardens for its extraordinary collection of stuffed animals, basement aquarium and ace gardens, or Morden Hall Park which is a bit of a rural idyll on our doorstep. The London Wetland Centre just over the border in Barnes is great for a stomp around in wellies. Across the river Fulham Palace & Gardens has a museum, café and lovely walled gardens; and, if it's sunny, Bishops Park even has an urban beach.
9. Place to live
It's impossible to single out an area! It's a hotly discussed topic on the Mumsnet talkboards closely linked to school catchment areas and some eye-wateringly high property prices. We'd love to hear your latest opinions on this one. Tell us what you think in Local Talk here.
10. Place to shop
The Northcote Road, heart of 'nappy valley', has everything you need for family life, whether it's a butcher, bakery, toyshop, Co-op, or kid's clothing, and has market stalls at the weekends. There are also great farmers' markets in Balham and off Abberville Road. With a more eclectic mix, Tooting Market and nearby Broadway Market are among London's oldest covered markets. And finally, if you want the high street brands, you can head to the Putney Exchange or Southside shopping centre.